Sunday, 17 August 2008

Lost Cat

One of the more endearing qualities of the MP3 player, be it Ipod or other, is the random shuffle facility where the machine picks tracks randomly from the entire content like a demented DJ. Assuming you are able to transfer a sizeable chunk of your CD collection to these devices, this particular mode becomes a wake up call to the owner and a voice to all those albums that were bought, listened to once and filed in short order.

Pre-Ipod, music collection owners could bask in the ignorance of their own possessions forever without a second thought and I freely admit that there are many albums that I have not touched for decades since purchase. But now, assuming we all have the willingness to give it a try, we can rediscover many lost gems without having to trail through countless substandard LP/CDs.

I very rarely delve into unknown territory these days for the simple reason that with a young family, the time available for me to sit in front of a stereo in a quiet room is virtually nil. When I do get the opportunity, I like to hear something that I know I’m going to like, rather than speculate on stuff that may be the worst album I ever bought. It’s a fact of life that we listen to that which will bring us pleasure. So for the rest of the time it’s the MP3 player – naff quality and all.

So to spice things up there is the decision to select shuffle mode and there is almost a sense of adventure in doing so as it reveals long ago forgotten songs, many of which I could’ve sworn I never owned, and offers them up for reappraisal. How many times have I had to look at the display to ascertain, “What the bloody hell’s this?” It’s a bit humbling really.

One such song that came up by random chance the other day was ‘Lost Cat’ from the 1996 album ‘Way Beyond Blue’ by those welsh rockers, Catatonia (ok, not that old but I’m making a general point here). I was sufficiently enthused by this to go back and listen to the whole album, which in retrospect, is not half as bad as I remember. In fact it rather puts ‘International Velvet’ with its knowing ‘Mulder and Scully’ in its place. And it certainly outshines the lacklustre ‘Equally Cursed and Blessed’.

Another welcome listen was ‘Nightshift’ by Siouxsie and the Banshees, a track that I played regularly in the mid 1980s but have since banished to the life of a catalogue item in my ever-growing collection. Listening to shuffle mode is a bit like buying a new album but without spending the money and with a growing family draining my precious CD budget annually, this is a welcome respite.

Now that’s what I call music!


Alan said...

The iPod's shuffle is useful but I often find that it produces strange combinations of songs, some of which work but most which do not.

I adopt a sightly different approach by following the principle "I am going to listen to all albums with titles beginning with .." and then choosing a letter. This has the merit of making me not skip past an album in the list and sometimes makes me play an album with a name I don't recognise/remember.

I recommend you don't use the letter 't' though as it takes a long time to get through all the titles beginning with "The...".

The letter 'a' is a bit better and meant that I listened to Astral Weeks for the first time in a long time just recently.

I must confess double albums or what were box sets can sometimes pose a bit of a problem but I guess a fan of the early Chicago would not object.

musicobsessive said...

Hmm, good plan. However, my train commuting time rarely lets me read the paper and listen to a whole album in one sitting (or standing on occasion) hence the shuffle. I do know what you mean about odd combinations. Often I find that the lesser songs from really good albums shine when juxtaposed with other stuff that bears no relation to it letting you acknowledge it for what it is - actually pretty good.

Just remind me not to choose 'Z' in view of my 4CD 'Zombie Heaven' box set.